Friday, July 29, 2005

More info on the situation b/t the Vatican and Israel

The Vatican statement accused Israeli officials of deliberately distorting the historical record. The statement concluded with a blunt statement: "Affirmations that run counter to historical truth can advantage only those who seek to foment animosity and conflict, and certainly do not serve to improve the situation." The dispute between Israel and the Holy See began when the Israeli foreign ministry lashed out at Pope Benedict for not including Israel when he mentioned England, Egypt, Turkey, and Iraq as countries where suicide bombers had recently struck. The Israeli statement charged that the Pope had deliberately omitted mention of a bombing in Netanya 10 days earlier. Vatican officials at first brushed that accusation aside, pointing out that the Pope had merely mentioned the most recent attacks, and his blanket condemnation of all terrorist acts was clearly intended to cover the attack at Netanya as well.

The controversy flared further, however, when Nimrod Barkan, the Israeli minister for inter-religious affairs, told reporters that his government had frequently complained about the alleged failure of Pope John Paul II (bio - news) to speak out against Palestinian terrorism.

In its July 28 rebuttal, the Holy See replied that "John Paul II's declarations condemning all forms of terrorism, and condemning single acts of terrorism committed against Israel, were numerous and public." The statement was accompanied by a listing of some of the statements that Pope John Paul had made, between 1979 and 2005. It is "sad and surprising" that Israeli officials would not acknowledge the Pope's clear stance, the Vatican said.

The July 28 statement from the Holy See observed that in some cases, the Vatican felt unable to issue a public condemnation of terrorist strike on Israel because they "were sometimes followed by immediate Israeli reactions not always compatible with the norms of international law. It would, consequently, have been impossible to condemn the former and remain silent on the latter."

Showing unmistakable resentment of the Israeli effort to influence public statements from the Vatican, the July 28 statement added: "Just as the Israeli government understandably does not allow its pronouncements to be dictated by others, neither can the Holy See accept lessons and directives from any other authority concerning the orientation and contents of its own declarations." The strident and unexpected charges issued by the Israeli foreign ministry have caused serious damage to diplomatic ties between the Holy See and Israel. Some analysts, notably including the AsiaNews service, have suggested that the Israeli government deliberately launched a media offensive against the Pope in order to provide an excuse for the failure to conclude talks leading to a juridical-financial pact.

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